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  • Writer's pictureNorthPoint

Pixels to Print: The Align Tool



The align tool is a simple, yet powerful feature of design programs that I personally use countless times a day. It keeps my objects lined up perfectly so nothing looks amiss, keeping every pixel in it’s place. Once someone notices something out of alignment, it’s hard to no longer see it, and it could become distracting. This alignment tool will be your best friend when making everything look professional and clean. However, not all designers may be aware of the helpful functions the align tool has to offer.



Align tool can be found under Window > Align. Depending on which “align to” mode is set, you can have the align tool automatically place things effortlessly. See some samples below. (I’ll be using Adobe Illustrator but the same features can be found across their suite of programs.)



Align to Artboard A simple way to align objects perfectly center in your document is changing the “Align to” to “Artboard” and then pressing the center vertically and center horizontally. Never again will you need to manually place things centered!


Align to Selection

Align to Selection is a useful tool when you need certain objects to line up in relation to one another. Select the objects you need, change the “Align to” mode to “Selection,” and then press the functions as needed, and the objects will only move among themselves.


Align to Key Object Here’s another very useful function similar to the one above. With Key Object alignment, you will be able to align items in relation to only one key object. To designate the key object, simply select all your items you would like selected first, then simply click on an already-selected object again. The key object will be highlighted in a blue border from the rest, so you know which one it is. Simply select another selected object to change which item is the key object. Then use the functions as needed. The key object won’t move, but the items you also have selected will move in relation to that one item.

Have you ever needed to give even spacing between items quickly? Look no further! Simply select the objects you would like (remember to set the “Align to” to “Selection” so that they don’t distribute to the sides of the artboard) and then press the function for distributing spacing horizontally or vertically. Now your items are evenly placed!


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